|Silver Lake artist David Edward Byrd and his iconic Godspell poster art|
Jimi Hendrix. Woodstock. The Fillmore East. The Who’s Tommy. Do you associate certain images with these rock-n-roll legends? Illustrator David Edward Byrd is the man behind some of the most iconic album covers and poster art of the late 1960s and 1970s rock era.
A graduate of Carnegie Tech., Byrd got his start serendipitously: his friend worked for promoter Bill Graham who needed some posters made quickly for an upcoming show. And the rest is rock-n-roll history, as Byrd went on to design Jimi Hendrix’s poster art for his headlining show a the Fillmore East in 1968, posters for the Grateful Dead and the Grammy-award wining album cover art for The Who’s Tommy.
For the past 15 years, Byrd has lived in Silver Lake along with partner and mosaic artist Jolino Beserra. Their 1928 bungalow is a colorful pastiche of inlaid mosaics and hand-painted furniture. Stepping inside the house is like walking into a three-dimensional sculpture as mosaics cover many surfaces. “To me it’s important; art is your life, what you touch and see every day,” said Byrd. Also gracing the wall is Byrd’s original line drawing for the classic program cover art for the 1971 Broadway musical Godspell that depicts Jesus with cascading, intertwined locks.“I never felt I had a style, but everyone thinks I do,” said Byrd of his prolific career. “I let the job tell me how to do it.”
His other distinctive art deco-tinged images are found on posters and playbill cover art for original Broadway productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Stephen Sondheim’s Follies and the poster art for the film Day of the Locust.
Byrd continues illustrating today and his once throwaway rock posters are highly collectible. Beginning June 11th, Glendale’s Brand Art Library Galleries will host a 40-year retrospective of Byrd’s work aptly entitled: The Byrd Show: 40 Years of Art & Design.